KATIE CASSIDY (CENTER) WITH LEIGHTON MEESTER AND SELENA GOMEZ ON THE SET OF MONTE CARLO.
Although Katie Cassidy may be the offspring of a Partridge, she has worked hard for her reputation and is finding a niche of her own. From playing lead character Ella Simms on the short-lived Melrose Place, to a regular guest-starring role on Gossip Girl this season as Juliet Sharp, Cassidy has made herself known as one of Hollywood's young, rising actresses. Cassidy's been mostly noticed for her more outgoing characters (Ella and Juliet), but she believes in being in more challenging roles for the sake of improving as an actress. Next month, Cassidy will star alongside Selena Gomez and Leighton Meester in Monte Carlo, which leads the girls to Paris on a vacation—and beyond, due to a fortunate case of mistaken identity. We caught up with Cassidy discusses hair color, acting classes (where she still brushes up on her talent), and the challenges on the road to success.
ILANA KAPLAN: Why did you choose to take on a role in Monte Carlo?
KATIE CASSIDY: Emma was just so much fun. I really liked the script. She's very full of life. I think she has just a big appetite for life in general. I don't know if you've seen the movie yet, but if you have, I'm constantly eating in it. She wants to do everything. She wants to see everything... the glitz and the glamour. She thinks it's going to be so amazing. It's also a nice, cute coming-of-age. They go away to Europe and they go on these escapades and these adventures. They kind of come full circle, and realize, well, Emma does, that home is where she belongs.
KAPLAN: A lot of your characters have outgoing personalities. Are you more drawn to these types of roles?
CASSIDY: I think it just depends on the actor. I think it's what I bring to it, which can be a good thing or maybe not such a good thing, depending on who the director is. For me, I just like to be as fun as possible, but I do like to bring a lot to a character. Given the script or the show, I know my boundaries, limits, and how far I can go with it. As far as me choosing these characters that have a lot of personality, I don't necessarily think it's intentional. I just think that I try and come up with a backstory of who they are, depending on the script or how rounded these characters are, and just go from there.
KAPLAN: How did you first get interested in acting?
CASSIDY: I was in theater when I was in elementary, middle school and high school. I didn't know it would be an actual profession for me. I didn't think of it as a reality. If I were going to do it, I wanted to make sure to do it on my own merit. My father... I understand we have the same last name, but I didn't grow up with him. I wanted to make a name for myself. I ended up meeting my manager because my sister was a receptionist at a management company. My manager is actually my same manager that I have today. That's how it started. I worked my way.
KAPLAN: What was it like working on the set of Gossip Girl?
CASSIDY: It was fun! I really liked New York City. I think it was a really good experience for me. They were really warm and welcoming of me into the cast. I knew some of the girls beforehand. It was a pleasure working for them. I just shot a pilot with Josh Schwartz and Stephanie Savage, but it didn't end up getting picked up. That's how the industry works though, you win some, you lose some.
KAPLAN: I think that it's like that in a lot of different professions. Since you worked with Leighton Meester in both Gossip Girl and Monte Carlo, do you have any stories about Leighton Meester?
CASSIDY: Just that she's fabulous. I don't have any gossip on her. I just think the woman is amazing! I adore her.
KAPLAN: Any funny stories?
CASSIDY: We probably have a million when we were shooting in Europe. We're just normal girls. We hung out in New York. We went to yoga. We went to lunch. She watched my dog for me when I was out of town. She's a doll. She's amazing.
KAPLAN: I completely didn't recognize you from Melrose Place to Gossip Girl.
CASSIDY: My hair's been every color. My hair's been all over the map.
KAPLAN: You did a great job on Gossip Girl playing Juliet. I was hoping you'll come back next season!
CASSIDY: We'll see...
KAPLAN: I hope so! What was your most memorable role to date?
CASSIDY: Probably Melrose Place just because I think that was the first experience that I've had working as a lead on a television show and being on full-time, shooting 17-hour days, being this character. They are all very memorable, each in their own ways.
KAPLAN: If you weren't acting, what would you be doing?
CASSIDY: I would be some sort of criminal detective. I think it's so interesting trying to put puzzle pieces together, or a murder mystery. Something in that world, I think, would be pretty cool. Aside from that, probably a psychologist. Again, figuring out the human brain is pretty interesting to me. I guess I do some of that in what I do, figuring out characters who make choices.
KAPLAN: I know you said you didn't grow up with your dad, but what was it like for you growing up as David Cassidy's daughter and trying to make your own image in the industry?
CASSIDY: I grew up with my mom. It was more just a fact that I was his daughter. I had a relationship with him when I was younger, but we weren't that close until I got older. I think it's hard for any celebrity offspring to make a name for themselves. I don't think it would have been any easier for me because I was David Cassidy's daughter. You have different expectations that you feel like you have to live up to. Then, at the same time, nobody is ever going to give you a job because you're "the daughter of" or "the son of." They're going to give you the job because you're talented and because they see that you worked really hard.
KAPLAN: As a young actress in Hollywood, what has been the biggest challenge for you?
CASSIDY: I think everyone has different challenges as a young actress in Hollywood. I think going in there, that I want to, that I'm actually talented and not just David Cassidy's daughter. I just wanted to be respected for what I do and understood. I feel like I have done that. I think for me now, it's just sort of just being able to step outside of the box and put myself in positions for taking on character that are maybe a little bit more uncomfortable. I feel like in acting classes, you'll get up sometimes, that's just the most vulnerable position you can be in. You're among your fellow actors, yet they look at you and they're like, "You've been on TV. You've been in movies." It almost adds to the pressure. I think it's those uncomfortable positions that you put yourself in that allows you to grow as an actor and as a human being. I think it's an uncomfortable situation that I constantly remind myself that it's a good thing.
KAPLAN: What are your hopes for if Juliet comes back to Gossip Girl?
CASSIDY: Well, if she does, I'm sure they have a lot planned for her. I'm sure it'll be juicy.
MONTE CARLO IS OUT JULY 1.